Environmental Science & Sustainability

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In The Department of Environmental Science and Sustainability (ENSS), we view collaborative research as an integral part of how we train you to be a leader in the field.

An undergraduate research project is required for students earning a B.S. degree, and is strongly encouraged for all ESS students.

Research opportunities in ESS include improving chimpanzee conservation in the forests of Rwanda, studying the impacts of logging on forest moths, modeling long-term economic choices in environmental systems, wading through streams and rivers to better understand water quality, tracking rare turtles in nearby prairies, and finding better ways to build diversity in tallgrass prairies. Some students propose their own research ideas and then refine them with professors, while others prefer to join ongoing research projects—talk with any ESS professor about how to find a research advisor. We recommend students get started early in their careers here to make the most of the opportunity.

The annual campus-wide Drake University Conference on Undergraduate Research in Science (DUCURS) is a great place to present your work and learn about some of the other research going on at Drake. ESS students also routinely present their findings at regional and national conferences, and many co-author work in peer-reviewed science journals.

Research can be done for pay, credit, or just for the experience. To get the most out of the experience, we encourage you to spend at least one summer focusing on a research project, as uninterrupted time is often important for high-quality data collection and analysis. Drake facilitates this process through the Drake University Science Collaborative Institute (DUSCI)

Ongoing and previous student research projects:

Project Student(s) Faculty/Mentor
"Walk My Bricks" A Youth-Led Neighborhood Tour and Mapping Project Marlee Rutlledge, Lauren Krake, Leif Klarqvist, Katie Kruger Dian Nostikasari
Cross-cultural Community-based Strategies for Sustainable Urban Streams: Lessons From Des Moines and Jakarta Ella Field, Meredith Miklos, Emma Cress, Lauren Krake Dian Nostikasari
Neighborhood Safety Assessment for Environmental Justice Allie Girvan, Malik James Dian Nostikasari
Evaluating Ecosystem Resilience in Forest Animal communities of the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment Sophie Van Zee, Evelyn Ince Keith Summerville
Conservation Biology of Ornate Box Turtles in Sand Prairies of Iowa Alex Ulin, Shykala Brinkman, Hannah Jensen, Grace Baumgartner Keith Summerville
Restoring Hardwood Forest Communities in Central Iowa Nora Mahoney, Alexis Cole Keith Summerville
Multi-species Zoological Inventory of Central Iowa Natural Areas Jordan Springer, Evan Darcy, Jenna Baker, Shykala Brinkman, Rylee Beardsworth, Hannah Jensen, Kali Wilson Keith Summerville
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